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Showing posts from January, 2015

Herbert Draper, Victorian Sensualist

By Summer Seas, 1912

Born in London, 1863, Herbert James Draper was a Victorian Classical painter. He made his early career on mythological subjects then moved onward to portraiture, yet it is his keen understanding and appreciation of the female form, in an age of repression, that I find fascinating about his work. I cannot think of another artist who combined Classical structure of the body with a relaxed sensuality and a deep awareness of body language as a key narrative element.

Observe By Summer Seas above and you can clearly see the difference between the two females. The kneeling figure is very Classical and pretty, hair tightly compressed in a traditional scarf, yet she seems to defer to the graceful and sensuous figure seated on the rocks, hair blowing gently in the wind. Note how Draper uses a very cool skin palette to give their skin a soft glow. It contrasts beautifully with that incredible water behind them, reflecting the warm rocky mountain. Draper perches them both on…